The Adrian Loveridge Column – ‘Our Website is Coming Soon’
So an overwhelming mandate for the 60 something percent of eligible voters who cast their preference to deliver the historic victory for the Barbados Labour Party.
A new Minister of Tourism and the first signs for those of us involved in the sector will be to see if that person appointed can resist placing his political cronies onto the board of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., or will common sense and intent prevail by inviting those with genuine proven ability and drive, who will help implement policies and decisions.
For many of us this will be the first indication whether country comes first or we are going to continue in the same partisan ways of the past.
When the Democratic Labour Party came to power ten years ago, a political strategist asked my opinion on whom I thought should be made Minister of Tourism and I candidly admit, I suggested Richard Sealy. Despite having a non-tourism background, at the time I felt that Mr. Sealy had the ability to listen and make informed decisions.
History will prove whether I was right or wrong, but if we ever need a reminder of the importance of failing to listen, 24th May 2018 will remain a long time beacon.
One thing for sure, is that any new administration will have to take some bold and decisive action, if it really wants to return our tourism sector to sustainable profitability.
After reportedly abolishing the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, but in practice simply adding it to land tax demands, the implementation of the ludicrously named National Social Responsibility Levy and then hiking it by 400 per cent, the dismal failure to reduce the promised rate of Value Added Tax on stand -alone restaurants. The granting of unique extraordinary tax concessions to a single entity, the selling off of taxpayer hotel assets at far below the declared market value and lest we forget, the ongoing south coast sewage disaster that has brought a number of long established tourism businesses close to the brink of extinction.
Of course this is now simply elapsed history. The imperative at this stage is to formulate policies and implement plans that will make a positive difference in the short term.
To me there are some very pressing issues. How can any potential investor take a country seriously when, after ten years, a search for a Ministry of Tourism website is greeted by ‘our website is coming soon’?
Is it our major industry or not?
With so many creative people within our tiny 166 square miles, how can it possibly taken up to a decade to design and launch a website?
Those same potential investors are currently confronted with an alarming and dislocated source of essential information, rather than have a single one-shop reference point. Investors must also feel secure that they can repatriate foreign exchange funds they have brought into the country and registered with the Central bank, without time or limit restrictions together with any agreed return on that investment.
Until these matters are seriously and punctually addressed, there will be little incentive for overseas investors to bite the bullet.